“When we encounter people from all these different communities and cultures who have their own set of values and communication styles around sex and relationships, it adds to the dynamic and nuanced situation when we’re dealing with hookup culture,” Fei said.“Not even knowing your own wants and needs and expectations and just jumping into something — given the small campus we have, a lot of problems can happen as a result.
“Everyone is thinking, ‘Everyone is hooking up, so I’ve got to participate, I can’t be left out,’ and a lot of people are feeling pressured to fit in by engaging in hookup culture.” According to the 2016 Dartmouth Health Survey, respondents averaged about two sex (oral, vaginal or anal) partners in a year.
Nonetheless, discussions of campus hookup culture persist, and some students do choose to participate — a choice made for a variety of reasons.
“Because of the physicality of it, it can lead to feelings of being used for your body, feeling objectified,” Pinkney said.
“It’s all situational — it depends on how the interaction goes — but in this realm of casual sex, it’s very easy to feel used, even if you’re voluntarily engaging in it.” Most students haven’t had much formal education on how to navigate sexual decision making — to treat others with respect and have confidence in their own desires and limits.
It was all I could think about for two days straight.
I couldn’t really focus on anything else but what happened.” For students like Bustabad, it can be difficult to find constructive ways to learn to navigate the emotional travails of hookup culture, sex and relationships on campus while minimizing the consequences that accompany experience.“Basically, you can watch the game of baseball, you can practice it, you can read about it but until you’re in the moment playing it, you’ll never truly realize the experience of it.You have to be in the moment to understand the complexities.” But when he had a sexual experience that left him uncertain of his own emotions and desires, he found himself feeling alone in his struggles.“In that way, it can be empowering.” Dartmouth’s D-Plan can also make casual hookups an appealing option.“When you’re only given a certain amount of time, it sometimes gives you an excuse to escape that emotional labor or accountability,” Fei said.But it’s clear that not everyone is actually engaging in regular hookups.